ThinkBusiness talks to Chris Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Seedcorn winner Tracworx and guest of Bank of Ireland’s upcoming Friday Breakfast Club in Limerick.

In December Tracworx was named the overall winner of the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn investor readiness competition and received a cash prize of €100,000.

Tracworx has developed a patient tracking system that uses only the existing Wi-Fi networks in a hospital, allowing them to automate their data collection and to generate reports using real-time data. The company was established in 2016 by three college students, CEO Chris Kelly, COO Fionn Barron and CTO Eoin O’Brien.

“I personally feel I am very fortunate to be from Limerick, due to the boundless support I have received in the region”

Partnering with Limerick’s Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Bank of Ireland is hosting Kelly as its fireside chat guest its upcoming Friday Breakfast Club on 7 February at the O’Connell Street Workbench. Full details are here if you’d like to attend.

Ahead of his fireside chat we asked Kelly about the Tracworx story so far.

Congratulations on winning the Seedcorn competition, what does the award mean forTracworx.ai and how will the funding support your goals? 

We’re absolutely thrilled to win Seedcorn. To be nominated for such an award is an honour and to have been chosen as the overall winners for this year’s competition is something we have wanted to achieve since founding the company in 2016. The funding will allow us to expand operations, hire new staff and start branching into new markets. We are planning on deploying our system within hospital sites in the UK in the near future and the funding from Seedcorn will be instrumental in enabling us to do so.

The goal of Tracworx is to optimise efficiencies within hospitals by providing hospital personnel with key insights into the processes of their organisation and how they can be improved. 

What is the problem you are trying to solve and the size of the market you are addressing? 

To understand the scale of the challenge which Tracworx aims to solve, the NHS, UK recently commissioned Deloitte to conduct a study on 92 hospital trusts to investigate operating theatre productivity. The study revealed that “a third of operating lists started 30 minutes or more late and 38pc finished 30 minutes or more early. More than 111,000 finished at least 60 minutes early. Day lists comprising three four-hour sessions were particularly likely to finish early.” The impact of these findings – theatre time lost to late starts, early finishes and delays between operations – could potentially have been used by the 92 hospital trusts to do up to 291,327 more operations (a 16.8pc increase) over two months. The goal of Tracworx is to optimise efficiencies within hospitals by providing hospital personnel with key insights into the processes of their organisation and how they can be improved. 

What is your core product and service about and how does it work?

Tracworx is a data analytics tool that allows hospitals to establish where bottlenecks in your patient flow exist, while understanding efficiencies and ultimately true capacity for the hospital and their staff. The system works in real time, communicating vital information to staff while also giving feedback on how staff and patient flow are performing. Ultimately, the system allows hospitals to increase throughput, decrease average length of patient stay, improve the recording of treatment costs, and helps with achieving optimal process efficiency. 

Patients are given permission slips to sign as they are admitted and asked to wear the device shown in the picture, tracking their movement throughout the operating theatre department. The patients’ locations are monitored in real time. We collect additional information from nurses in surgery through a tablet interface to enrich and improve the overall dataset. The system automatically analyses all of the data and generates reports, live insights and predictive analytics for clients.

Tell us about the founders of the company and why you embarked on the entrepreneurship journey?

Three young men sit on a stage after winning a competition.

Tracworx’s founding team: COO Fionn Barron, CTO Eoin O’Brien and CEO Chris Kelly

Fionn Barron, Eoin O’Brien and I met each other in our first year of college. At the time we entered college, all of our foundational knowledge was purely technical with little business acumen. Despite this, we were naturally drawn together and became great friends as we shared a common goal and a way of thinking. We all strove to do something more, we all wanted to make a big impact and between us we felt we had a great team and idea to do so. Four years on we still feel the same way and are working hard every day to achieve these ideals. 

As CEO at Tracworx, I take responsibility when it comes to sales and marketing. I was previously employed by Emutex Ltd, Intel Shannon, and Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre in technical roles. This work included software development, hardware design, implementation and software testing. I have also previously acted as Managing Director of Talamh Innovations Ltd, where my work included planning, sales, strategising, financial planning, and management of all company activities. 

As COO at Tracworx, Fionn takes responsibility for the company’s hardware, supply chain, finances, customer implementation, and project planning. His previous experience includes extensive time working as a frontline technical support agent at Eishtec, and in a technical capacity at Cashbook Ltd. 

As CTO at Tracworx, Eoin takes responsibility for architecting, developing and testing the company’s flagship software products, including research and development of machine learning algorithms that power Tracworx. Eoin has over ten years of software engineering experience across a wide range of technologies, and has recently qualified as a Professional Scrum Master (PSM I). He has experience in launching successful open-source software projects, attracting thousands of users per month. 

What are your impressions of the start-up ecosystem in your region and in Ireland in general?

I personally feel I am very fortunate to be from Limerick, due to the boundless support I have received in the region. Numerous different organisations and people have been invaluable, but examples include the local enterprise office and UHL. The start-up environment is extremely tight knit and close in the area, and I have the impression that all founders want to help each other to succeed. More people than I can mention here played a key role in being able to develop the idea we had into a prosperous, thriving company with a bright future and I could not be more proud to call Limerick my home!

Are you raising funding at present?

We will be making an announcement on our funding round in the very near future but currently I have no comment to make on it as of this statement.

What are the biggest mistakes or lessons you have learned so far? 

I believe that the main error I committed through my entrepreneurial journey was not having enough focus on the company’s core vision. I think that due to the nature of being an entrepreneur, I inherently wanted to solve problems as they developed and arose. I think it took some time for the realisation to dawn on me that you can only do one thing well. Along the way opportunities will always arise and learning to ignore these distractions is something I had to develop along the way and it certainly didn’t come naturally. 

What advice do you have for fellow founders? 

My advice to fellow founders would be to look after yourself and your team. The stresses and uneven working hours of the founder journey left me incredibly unhealthy and overweight. It took some time to get into shape when I realised the effect it was taking on me and when I prioritised my health and a balance to my work and personal life, the business began to thrive. 

What technologies or tools does your team use to stay agile?

We use an array of different technologies and tools within different departments of the company. Sales would use HubSpot primarily, Operations uses tools like Asana and the tech team would use GitHub.

The next Friday Breakfast Club takes place in the Bank of Ireland Limerick Workbench on 7 February. Registration starts at 8am. To attend click here

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 28 January, 2020

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